TWO pro-independence activists on trial for their part in the Catalan referendum can now take their appeals to be released from pre-trial detention to the European Court of Human Rights.

Spain’s Constitutional Court yesterday turned down appeals from Jordi Cuixart, the head of Òmnium Cultural, and Jordi Sànchez, who is now an MP but at the time led the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).

Both have been in custody since October 16, 2017.

The ruling is significant because to take their cases to Europe they had to exhaust all domestic legal avenues and the court ruling takes them over that threshold.

READ MORE: Jordi Cuixart hits out at Spain's 'lack of freedoms' at trial

Cuixart and Sànchez appealed on the grounds that their imprisonment is an infringement of their fundamental rights.

Both are on trial for rebellion after leading protests against Spanish police raids on Catalan government buildings on September 20, 2017 – 10 days before the indyref.

They gave evidence at their Supreme Court trial last week, with a defiant Cuixart defending “the right to protest” and Sànchez describing himself as a “political prisoner” facing a “political trial”.